Guide to Our Favorite CA Backcountry Communities

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When it comes to backcountry living, few states offer as wide a variety as California. From mountain getaways to hidden gems along the coastline, California has it all. Ready to buy property in the backcountry? Contact us!


We’ll admit, we’re a little biased but… We LOVE Julian, CA! At just over 4200′ of elevation, Julian is a beautiful mountain town in San Diego county with access to plenty of hiking, horseback riding, wine tasting and tons of local events. With some of the most affordable real estate in the county, Julian, CA is ideal for families and nature lovers with crave the outdoors. Come see for yourself or give us a call and let us show you around our town!

Oak Glenn

Just east of San Bernardino and nestled against Little San Gorgonio Mountain is the small town of Oak Glenn. It is home to Southern California’s largest historical apple orchard, located within the Oak Glen Preserve. The apple orchard hosts historic and orchard related events April through October. The Oak Glen Preserve, a 2,100 acre preserve containing hiking trails and the botanical gardens, is open to the public year round.

The community is a tight knit community of less than 800 citizens. It’s a town where everyone waves to each other. A large number of its citizens are farmers and ranchers, while a sizable minority makes its living from the tourist population with pumpkin patches and souvenir shops.


The small town of Bonsall, situated halfway between Long Beach and San Diego, offers a healthy dose of back country hiking and organized events. Wild Wonders has become a popular vacation spot for tourists, as it brings its visitors into close encounters with such exotic animals as Bearcats and Cheetahs.

Monserate Mountain is nearby. Well marked trails guide its hikers to the peak of 1,557 feet above sea level. The view at the top is not only breathtaking as it looks into the valley, but allows you to clearly see the beautiful Agua Tibia Mountains.


With a population under 1,000 people, the Northern town of Mendocino is the perfect ocean-side escape. Most would recognize the coastline of Mendocino, but fail to recognize the name of the town. This is because the Mendocino Headlands State Park is famous for its oft displayed photography of the rugged coastline, lined with arched rock openings and cliffs. Those lucky backcountry residents that call it home tend to make ends meet as ranchers.

Other notable locations in Mendocino are the lighthouse at Point Cabrillo, Russian Gulch State Park, and the solitary beaches of Jughandle State Reserve.


Ojai’s claim to fame, like a few other backcountry communities in California, are vineyards and wine. The Ojai Vineyard and the Topa Mountain Winery are the two most popular, with the wines produced at both being featured as top winery destinations in all of California.

Furthermore, Ojai is home to the largest annual classical music festival in the Western United States. They have featured such directors as Barbara Hannigan and Thomas W. Morris in years past.

With a population of around 8,000 residents, Ojai promises to offer the same charm as rural communities, but with a hint of city living as well.


If you were to drive south of Santa Maria for about an hour, you will think you somehow ended up in Denmark as you come to Solvang. Solvang is popular for its classical Danish architecture, inspired by its Danish roots.

The town encapsulates the experience with Danish boutique shops and bakeries. People within striking distance frequent Solvang for their Danish pastries.

Another favorite destination is the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum. The collection of bikes includes such pieces as the rare 1920 ABC Sopwith and 1936 AJS R10. The museum does not believe in ropes, so you are able to get close and actually feel the motorcycles yourself.

This city of 5,000 residents is sure to delight any newcomers with its unique architecture and robust selection of daily activities.

Tahoe City

Lakeside living has never been so picturesque. West of Sacramento, with Eldorado National Forest to the South and Tahoe National Forest to the North, Tahoe City is situated on the famed Lake Tahoe itself. The weather at Tahoe City is unique in that it rarely breaches below freezing in the winter, yet it boasts an annual snowfall of roughly 170 inches.

This city of under 2,000 permanent residents claims to be the best swimming, hiking, biking, and camping destination around. The lake maintains a decent temperature during the summer. Hiking and biking trails are plentiful at the nearby national park and forests. However, Tahoe does have a moderate black bear population to consider. California truly has some beautiful lake communities.


You might recognize it from a multitude of car commercials; Crestline is home to the Rim of the World Highway

Crestline is a beautiful mountain town in San Bernardino County. It has the best to offer in backcountry residents as it has been voted as one of the friendliest places to live. Though it is on the larger end, in regards of population, of small town living at 10,000 residents, the community has proven tight knit.

Crestline, like most rural communities, offers a wide range of outdoor activities. You can swim and picnic at majestic blue waters of Lake Gregory or enjoy rugged hiking on the Heart Rock Trails. It is an outdoorsman dream spot.


There are many wonderful backcountry communities and backcountry residents that were not included on this list, such as Idyllwild, Julian, Napa Valley, Trabuco Canyon, Ramona, Escondido, and Wrightwood. These towns are just as wonderful in terms of its residents and recreational activities as any of those mentioned.

If you are serious about looking into buying a home, whether a permanent home or that dream vacation cabin, Red Hawk Reality can help. Specializing in backcountry real estate, particularly in the San Diego region, Red Hawk is composed of realtors that know the backcountry of California and can help you find the perfect location for all your wants. Give them a no obligation call and see what they can do.